•  1977
    Consciousness and morality
    In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    It is well known that the nature of consciousness is elusive, and that attempts to understand it generate problems in metaphysics, philosophy of mind, psychology, and neuroscience. Less appreciated are the important – even if still elusive – connections between consciousness and issues in ethics. In this chapter we consider three such connections. First, we consider the relevance of consciousness for questions surrounding an entity’s moral status. Second, we consider the relevance of consciousne…Read more
  •  1160
    We're All Folk: An Interview with Neil Levy about Experimental Philosophy and Conceptual Analysis
    with Yasuko Kitano
    Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 19 87-98. 2011.
    The following is a transcript of the interview I (Yasuko Kitano) conducted with Neil Levy (The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, CAPPE) on the 23rd in July 2009, while he was in Tokyo to give a series of lectures on neuroethics at The University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy. I edited his words for publication with his approval.
  •  947
    The responsibility of the psychopath revisited
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (2). 2007.
    The question of the psychopath's responsibility for his or her wrongdoing has received considerable attention. Much of this attention has been directed toward whether psychopaths are a counterexample to motivational internalism (MI): Do they possess normal moral beliefs, which fail to motivate them? In this paper, I argue that this is a question that remains conceptually and empirically intractable, and that we ought to settle the psychopath's responsibility in some other way. I argue that recen…Read more
  •  812
    Moral significance of phenomenal consciousness
    with Julian Savulescu
    Progress in Brain Research. 2009.
    Recent work in neuroimaging suggests that some patients diagnosed as being in the persistent vegetative state are actually conscious. In this paper, we critically examine this new evidence. We argue that though it remains open to alternative interpretations, it strongly suggests the presence of consciousness in some patients. However, we argue that its ethical significance is less than many people seem to think. There are several different kinds of consciousness, and though all kinds of consciou…Read more
  •  746
    Recent work on free will and moral responsibility
    with Michael McKenna
    Philosophy Compass 4 (1): 96-133. 2009.
    In this article we survey six recent developments in the philosophical literature on free will and moral responsibility: (1) Harry Frankfurt's argument that moral responsibility does not require the freedom to do otherwise; (2) the heightened focus upon the source of free actions; (3) the debate over whether moral responsibility is an essentially historical concept; (4) recent compatibilist attempts to resurrect the thesis that moral responsibility requires the freedom to do otherwise; (5) the r…Read more
  •  447
    Book review: Understanding blindness (review)
    Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 3 (3): 315-324. 2004.
  •  431
    Analytic and continental philosophy: Explaining the differences
    Metaphilosophy 34 (3): 284-304. 2003.
    A number of writers have tackled the task of characterizing the differences between analytic and Continental philosophy.I suggest that these attempts have indeed captured the most important divergences between the two styles but have left the explanation of the differences mysterious.I argue that analytic philosophy is usefully seen as philosophy conducted within a paradigm, in Kuhn’s sense of the word, whereas Continental philosophy assumes much less in the way of shared presuppositions, proble…Read more
  •  418
    Autonomy and addiction
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (3): 427-447. 2006.
    Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3010, Australia and.
  •  416
    Resisting 'Weakness of the Will'
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1). 2011.
    I develop an account of weakness of the will that is driven by experimental evidence from cognitive and social psychology. I will argue that this account demonstrates that there is no such thing as weakness of the will: no psychological kind corresponds to it. Instead, weakness of the will ought to be understood as depletion of System II resources. Neither the explanatory purposes of psychology nor our practical purposes as agents are well-served by retaining the concept. I therefore suggest th…Read more
  •  409
    What (if anything) is wrong with bestiality?
    Journal of Social Philosophy 34 (3). 2003.
  •  396
    Most philosophers believe that wrongdoers sometimes deserve to be punished by long prison sentences. They also believe that such punishments are justified by their consequences: they deter crime and incapacitate potential offenders. In this article, I argue that both these claims are false. No one deserves to be punished, I argue, because our actions are shot through with direct or indirect luck. I also argue that there are good reasons to think that punishing fewer people and much less harshly …Read more
  •  366
    Amputees by choice: Body integrity identity disorder and the ethics of amputation
    with Tim Bayne
    Journal of Applied Philosophy 22 (1). 2005.
    In 1997, a Scottish surgeon by the name of Robert Smith was approached by a man with an unusual request: he wanted his apparently healthy lower left leg amputated. Although details about the case are sketchy, the would-be amputee appears to have desired the amputation on the grounds that his left foot wasn’t part of him – it felt alien. After consultation with psychiatrists, Smith performed the amputation. Two and a half years later, the patient reported that his life had been transformed for th…Read more
  •  306
    Neuroethics: Ethics and the sciences of the mind
    Philosophy Compass 4 (1): 69-81. 2009.
    Neuroethics is a rapidly growing subfield, straddling applied ethics, moral psychology and philosophy of mind. It has clear affinities to bioethics, inasmuch as both are responses to new developments in science and technology, but its scope is far broader and more ambitious because neuroethics is as much concerned with how the sciences of the mind illuminate traditional philosophical questions as it is with questions concerning the permissibility of using technologies stemming from these science…Read more
  •  279
    Implicit Bias and Moral Responsibility: Probing the Data
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3): 3-26. 2016.
  •  277
    Doing without Deliberation: Automatism, Automaticity, and Moral Accountability,
    with Tim Bayne
    International Review of Psychiatry 16 (4): 209-15. 2004.
    Actions performed in a state of automatism are not subject to moral evaluation, while automatic actions often are. Is the asymmetry between automatistic and automatic agency justified? In order to answer this question we need a model or moral accountability that does justice to our intuitions about a range of modes of agency, both pathological and non-pathological. Our aim in this paper is to lay the foundations for such an account.
  •  272
  •  258
    Doxastic Responsibility
    Synthese 155 (1): 127-155. 2007.
    Doxastic responsibility matters, morally and epistemologically. Morally, because many of our intuitive ascriptions of blame seem to track back to agents’ apparent responsibility for beliefs; epistemologically because some philosophers identify epistemic justification with deontological permissibility. But there is a powerful argument which seems to show that we are rarely or never responsible for our beliefs, because we cannot control them. I examine various possible responses to this argument, …Read more
  •  247
    Downshifting and meaning in life
    Ratio 18 (2). 2005.
    So-called downshifters seek more meaningful lives by decreasing the amount of time they devote to work, leaving more time for the valuable goods of friendship, family and personal development. But though these are indeed meaning-conferring activities, they do not have the right structure to count as superlatively meaningful. Only in work – of a certain kind – can superlative meaning be found. It is by active engagements in projects, which are activities of the right structure, dedicated to the a…Read more
  •  236
    Libertarianism in all its varieties is widely taken to be vulnerable to a serious problem of present luck, inasmuch as it requires indeterminism somewhere in the causal chain leading to action. Genuine indeterminism entails luck, and lack of control over the ensuing action. Compatibilism, by contrast, is generally taken to be free of the problem of present luck, inasmuch as it does not require indeterminism in the causal chain. I argue that this view is false: compatibilism is subject to a probl…Read more
  •  224
    Self-deception and moral responsibility
    Ratio 17 (3): 294-311. 2004.
    The self-deceived are usually held to be moral responsible for their state. I argue that this attribution of responsibility makes sense only against the background of the traditional conception of self-deception, a conception that is now widely rejected. In its place, a new conception of self-deception has been articulated, which requires neither intentional action by self-deceived agents, nor that they possess contradictory beliefs. This new conception has neither need nor place for attribution…Read more
  •  214
    Rethinking neuroethics in the light of the extended mind thesis
    American Journal of Bioethics 7 (9): 3-11. 2007.
    The extended mind thesis is the claim that mental states extend beyond the skulls of the agents whose states they are. This seemingly obscure and bizarre claim has far-reaching implications for neuroethics, I argue. In the first half of this article, I sketch the extended mind thesis and defend it against criticisms. In the second half, I turn to its neuroethical implications. I argue that the extended mind thesis entails the falsity of the claim that interventions into the brain are especially …Read more
  •  212
    Forced to be free? Increasing patient autonomy by constraining it
    Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (5): 293-300. 2014.
    It is universally accepted in bioethics that doctors and other medical professionals have an obligation to procure the informed consent of their patients. Informed consent is required because patients have the moral right to autonomy in furthering the pursuit of their most important goals. In the present work, it is argued that evidence from psychology shows that human beings are subject to a number of biases and limitations as reasoners, which can be expected to lower the quality of their decis…Read more
  •  202
    Virtual child pornography: The eroticization of inequality
    Ethics and Information Technology 4 (4): 319-323. 2002.
    The United States Supreme Court hasrecently ruled that virtual child pornographyis protected free speech, partly on the groundsthat virtual pornography does not harm actualchildren. I review the evidence for thecontention that virtual pornography might harmchildren, and find that it is, at best,inconclusive. Saying that virtual childpornography does not harm actual children isnot to say that it is completely harmless,however. Child pornography, actual or virtual,necessarily eroticizes inequality…Read more
  •  197
    Epistemic Akrasia and the Subsumption of Evidence
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 4 (1): 149-156. 2004.
    According to one influential view, advanced by Jonathan Adler, David Owens and Susan Hurley, epistemic akrasia is impossible because when we form a full belief, any apparent evidence against that belief loses its power over us. Thus theoretical reasoning is quite unlike practical reasoning, in that in the latter our desires continue to exert a pull, even when they are outweighed by countervailing considerations. I call this argument against the possibility of epistemic akrasia the subsumption vi…Read more
  •  192
    Addiction as a disorder of belief
    Biology and Philosophy 29 (3): 337-355. 2014.
    Addiction is almost universally held to be characterized by a loss of control over drug-seeking and consuming behavior. But the actions of addicts, even of those who seem to want to abstain from drugs, seem to be guided by reasons. In this paper, I argue that we can explain this fact, consistent with continuing to maintain that addiction involves a loss of control, by understanding addiction as involving an oscillation between conflicting judgments. I argue that the dysfunction of the mesolimbic…Read more
  •  192
    Radically Socialized Knowledge and Conspiracy Theories
    Episteme 4 (2): 181-192. 2007.
    Abstract The typical explanation of an event or process which attracts the label ‘conspiracy theory’ is an explanation that conflicts with the account advanced by the relevant epistemic authorities. I argue that both for the layperson and for the intellectual, it is almost never rational to accept such a conspiracy theory. Knowledge is not merely shallowly social, in the manner recognized by social epistemology, it is also constitutively social: many kinds of knowledge only become accessible tha…Read more
  •  190
    Frankfurt-style cases are widely taken to show that agents do not need alternative possibilities to be morally responsible for their actions. Many philosophers take these cases to constitute a powerful argument for compatibilism: if we do not need alternative possibilities for moral responsibility, it is hard to see what the attraction of indeterminism might be. I defend the claim that even though Frankfurt-style cases establish that agents can be responsible for their actions despite lacking al…Read more